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Happy Hoopsgiving: Iowa Basketball Downs No. 12 Texas Tech, 72-61

We have some things to be thankful for

NCAA Basketball: Oral Roberts at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Iowa basketball team used hot-like-sauce shooting in the first half against No. 12 Texas Tech to surge its way to a 72-61 win over the reigning national runners-up.

In the first game since Jack Nunge tore his ACL, Iowa trotted out Jordan Bohannon, Connor McCaffery, CJ Fredrick and Luka Garza to start the game, forcing Fran McCaffery’s hand to go small.

The move paid off big, as Iowa played without question its best half of basketball this season, climbing to a 36-26 lead at the break. The Hawkeyes got there by distributing the ball to open shooters, resulting in a shooting clip of 7-14 from three. Texas Tech, meanwhile, shot a paltry 1-12 from deep. That’s how you win basketball games boys and girls.

Just four Iowa players scored in the first half. Joe Wieskamp led the way with 13, 3-5 from deep. Garza and Bohannon had 9 apiece while Fredrick had 5. Each would turn out to have a profound impact on the game.

Texas Tech chipped away at Iowa’s lead throughout the second frame and it looked like the Hawkeyes were about to let an impressive win slip through their fingers as the Red Raiders eventually got within two points a couple of times late in the half.

Texas Tech put together a 7-0 run while Bohannon and Garza were off the court tending to what could’ve been scary injuries for two key cogs of the machine. Bohannon knocked knees with a Tech player, while a few minutes later Garza took a really nasty elbow to the face. There was a whole lot of blood. He returned with a stitched up face. It looks badass.

But it didn’t stop Garza from shining. He ended with his 4th double-double of the season, pulling down 12 boards to go with 17 points.

Neither injury proved to be serious as both players ended having a huge impact late in the game. Garza made a crucial put back while Tech was within 2 with 5 minutes to play, while Bohannon’s prowess at shooting free throws sealed the deal for the good guys.

It was his best game of the season. I was cautious about his future this year, as Bohannon looked pretty rusty in the limited action I’ve seen so far, but clean-shaven Jordan Bohannon is the Jordan Bohannon we know and love. The senior led all scorers with 20 points, 8-8 from the stripe and 4-9 from deep. I dunno if he’s BACK for good, but he was definitely BACK on Thanksgiving.

Texas Tech had one last chance to knot it up late after making it a 2-point game with 1:50 on clock following some made free throws from Terrence Shannon, but CJ Fredrick called blouses and that was that.

Up next, Iowa plays the winner of Creighton-San Diego State on Friday night in the Championship game of whatever Las Vegas Preseason Tournament This Is.

Other musings:

  • Cordell Pemsl had a HUGE defensive rebound that led to the CJ Fredrick sequence that put the game away.
  • Pemsl and Ryan Kriener combined for just 21 minutes of action, perhaps flashing Fran’s hand of committing to small ball?
  • I love Joe Toussaint, but it just ain’t there yet for him. The energy he brings to the court is palpable, however which is worthy enough of playing time in itself. For now, Iowa needs Connor McCaffery to keep things cohesive.
  • McCaffery doesn’t have the best numbers, but he’s distributing and defending well. His most effective scoring against Tech was a banked three, so take that as you will.
  • Goodbye!